IN 2011, Turia Pitt was not expected to live after receiving deep burns to almost 70 per cent of her body while competing in an ultra-marathon in the Kimberleys.
But by drawing on her own inner strength and the support of others, she was not only able to defy the odds but go on to inspire others, including 300 people who gathered at City Diggers on Friday for an Illawarra Women In Business networking lunch.
"In a matter of seconds, my accident had taken everything away from me," she said.
But looking back, she thought "just maybe my accident was the best bloody thing to ever happen to me. It gave me the freedom to start my life again. It gave me the opportunity to be heard. It gave me a voice. It gave me the resources to be able to put my energy into something that I was passionate about."
Ms Pitt believed it was possible to do anything when you were lucky enough to have someone in your life who "inspires us, is there for us and who loves us unconditionally". For her that was her partner, Michael Hoskin. But it began with her mother who had taught her it was possible to achieve extraordinary things if you didn't give up.
"Without that gift of wisdom she gave me, I would not be standing here in front of you today."
After wearing a mask for two long years, Ms Pitt also came to realise that everyone wore masks.
"Why are we so afraid of letting people see who we really are?"
Ms Pitt said the love from family made her appreciate the importance of feeling loved.
"We all deserve to be loved and cared for," she said. "Not only do we deserve the best from others but we deserve the best from ourselves. And I am just proud of the person that I am. Having self belief, having self confidence and having self love has got nothing to do with what you see."
Ms Pitt recalled her father telling her when she was little how she could fly. She said most children were so full of confidence and belief they did not doubt what they could do.
"We just seem to lose all that as an adult," she said. "When did we decide what we could do and what we couldn't do?"
After the fire, she set herself a new standard and is now inspiring others by showing how she can fly.
"I don't want to be as fit as I was in that ultra-marathon," she said.
"I want to be fitter, faster, stronger, more powerful. And I am going to do whatever it takes to make sure I get there.
"I learned that the power of the human mind in our lives is bloody extraordinary. I've learned that happiness and success in life is not as a result of what you have but of how you live. And I have learned all of us are so much more capable and have so much more potential than we give ourselves credit for."